Race Weekend Central

Scott Dixon Doubles Down on Fuel Strategy to Win at Gateway

Scott Dixon, for the second race in a row, used fuel strategy to take a surprise win from the dominant driver of the day – this time, Josef Newgarden – and in the process secured his second win of the 2023 NTT IndyCar Series season. Pato O’Ward and David Malukas finished second and third, respectively – the only other drivers on the lead lap at the race’s end.

Dixon started Sunday’s (Aug. 27) race in 16th after being handed a nine-place grid penalty for an unapproved engine change on Saturday, and all eyes were on Newgarden, who started on pole, to go on attack and carve into Alex Palou‘s points lead. Dixon drove a subdued first stint and kept himself under the radar.

“So proud of the team, so happy for everybody,” Dixon told NBC Sports in victory lane. “We took a big grid penalty today with one of those changes and, we had to go the alternate root and it worked out perfectly. Especially on the tires, it was hard to kind of keep them on, but this team was perfect. They gave me the number I needed to be getting.”

The Iceman maintained a low profile throughout the first two stints of the race. His first pit stop was in line with Newgarden, coming at lap 65 compared to Newgarden’s lap 63. Both drivers opted to take the newly-mandated Firestone Alternate tires on their first stop, which offered them better speed but less durability.

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It was this second stint where Dixon molded the race in his image. While Newgarden pitted on lap 104 to swap his red tires for fresh Primaries (blacks), Dixon continued on to lap 126. By this point, Newgarden was back on pit road for tires as well. Dixon’s management of fuel and tires put him an entire pit stop ahead of the bulk of the field.

With 48 laps to go, Newgarden hit the wall on the exit of turn 2 and ended his day with a damaged right-rear toe link. With that, the Nashville native’s dominance of ovals ended one race short of a sweep for the 2023 season.

Points leader and champion-apparent Palou finished the day in seventh place, seeing his points lead shrink to just 74 over Dixon. Though the Spaniard doesn’t have to start sweating yet, the results from Gateway mean that Dixon could very possibly take the 2023 title should misfortune find Palou over the next two weeks.

In what may have been his final IndyCar appearance, Takuma Sato found little more than frustration around the 1.25-mile oval at Gateway. Multiple close calls with the wall and struggles with pace plagued the first half of the two-time Indy 500 winner’s day. On lap 121, the third time proved to be anything but charming and the No. 11 car smacked the wall at the exit of turn 2 to end Sato’s day before the race’s halfway point.

Callum Ilott and Benjamin Pedersen also retired early in the race. Ilott, like Sato and Newgarden, hit the wall exiting turn 2, while Pedersen was turned on the first lap after contact from Ed Carpenter.

2023 IndyCar Gateway Results

The next stop for the IndyCar Series will be Portland International Raceway for the penultimate round of the season. The Grand Prix of Portland will air on Sunday, Sept. 4, at 3:30 p.m. ET with coverage on NBC.

About the author

Alex is the IndyCar Content Director at Frontstretch, having initially joined as an entry-level contributor in 2021. He also serves as Managing Director of The Asia Cable, a publication focused on the international affairs and politics of the Asia-Pacific region which he co-founded in 2023. With previous experience in China, Japan and Poland, Alex is particularly passionate about the international realm of motorsport and the politics that make the wheels turn - literally - behind the scenes.

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3 races ago I would not have bet money on Dixon winning a race, much less 2 races, in the final 4 events. Congrats to them, they’ve put together alternate strategies and executed flawlessly to earn them – even forcing Newgarden into making a mistake in the process.

That said, I do wish they could come up with a package at Gateway to allow more passing, especially if you have a faster car. Perhaps push to pass?

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